Today is a simple day. Not too much exciting going on, nothing extravagant and no big plans. I like simple days. But I did awake this morning longing for something, longing for my life lived today to make a difference in someone else’s life. To be back in a place of loving on someone in the ways they need it. This can be simple to.
There’s one person in particular that keeps flooding my mind. The only problem is that I only saw her once, do not know her name and am not sure where to find her. (sounds like I’ve lost my mind and am speaking of an imaginary friend!) I promise I’m not. The past 4, going on 5, days now, this woman has filled my mind and prayers. You see, I was on my way to Trader Joe’s last Wednesday and was driving by Lake Calhoun, there at a stoplight was a woman standing in the median. I remember every detail about her appearance. She had jeans and tennis shoes on, bundled up in a navy blue windbreaker with the hood tied tight around her head and dark gloves she clung tight to. I don’t know how many hours she’d been standing there but she didn’t look warm, she had a look of worry and exhaustion, almost a pleading face. She held in her hands a simple sign, it read:
Homeless, with kids
As I sat there, I went through what I had in the Jeep with me at the time… no cash, no food to give this woman. But why is food always the first thing we think of when we see someone pleading for help? Yes, food is a necessity but really – wouldn’t this woman have wanted to sit down with someone at a coffee shop and just share her life, her real needs, her dreams? Just someone to talk to rather than being handed a banana? Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure she’s thankful for whatever she was given that day but when you think about the needs of a human heart, they’re much greater than some bread.
She’s flooded my mind because in those two minutes at the stoplight, I didn’t avoid eye contact like we try to most of the time, of course I didn’t stare into her eyes either but I observed, trying to think of what I could do for her and what her needs may really be. How many kids does she have? What happened to bring her to this point in her life? What experience has she gone through without anyone to help support her? Where do they stay at night… a friends? a shelter? I thought on all these things and decided I could go buy her a bag of groceries at Trader Joe’s then come back and talk with her… but the reason she’s flooded my mind the past 5 days is because I didn’t do that. I didn’t go back. I didn’t get extra groceries at the store. I didn’t offer to taker her to a Caribou and just listen to her. But you know what, I want to go back to that place, I want to find her. I want to apologize for not just rolling my window down and asking her a little question, “What do you need most?”
This morning as I was sitting quietly at the table eating breakfast and reading my Bible, I was praying that God would show me what opportunity I have today to love on someone, to be His hands and feet in someone’s life today outside my home. This women continues to bombard my thoughts. And I’ve decided I will go back to that spot this afternoon, even if she is not there, I need to go to the spot she was standing, stand there and pray. Is it odd to want to go stand in a median if no one else is there? Sure, but I wonder how she felt standing there for hours last Wednesday pleading with anyone to help her out. I hope she is there, I hope she has a moment to talk, not because I need to pity her, but because I want to know what she needs, I want her to know that someone’s been thinking about her, praying for her and wants to walk beside her to help.
I’m not sure what will come of it, but I know I have to return to that spot and see what God may have there for me to do. And next time, I won’t pass up the opportunity at the moment. God’s asked us and me specifically to care for the poor, love on those who need it most.
A few years ago, we were driving in NYC with a few youth group kids and we came upon a man standing on the road asking for food or money. We rolled the window down and without thinking, gave him some cash we had. One of the kids asked us how we knew he wasn’t going to waste it. It was a pretty profound moment in youth ministry because we love living life with teens, but even more so when it’s the deep things of life (though often simple) that we can respond to. My response: we have no clue how he might spend it or if he really needs it, but God’s prompted and asked us to give and so we must obey that… give and pray that it will be a blessing. I’d rather obey God and have the money wasted, than not obey and wonder! And so that’s my philosophy.
I feel as though I didn’t listen and obey on Wednesday but I’ve learned as I’ve thought on the situation and that precious woman’s life. Am I sure that she is so desperately in need? No, I have no clue what she really needs or if she’s really in need, but I know that something prompted her pleading and that something is important.
I hope I come back with her name, a precious story of her life and that I can give her hope and love. But she may not be there, I may never find her but I have to go back… I have to obey. So today, I’ll go, I”ll use this simple day to follow God into an unknown place.
Quite appropriate that the song on my iTunes right now as I close this post is:
LOVE LEAD THE WAY
(Stefan Van Voorst)
For such a time as this,
to show the world love wins
Love, lead the the way,
lead the way to Kingdom come
Love show the way,
show the way Your will is done